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Settlement: Christian clubs can have announcements in Deer Valley schools

ADF attorneys represent student in Christian club at Arizona’s Mountain Ridge High School
Erin Krestan, student at Mountain Ridge High School
Alliance Defending Freedom
Alliance Defending Freedom

PHOENIX — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund have obtained a settlement from Deer Valley Unified School District officials that will end the district’s prohibition on a Christian student club’s fliers and PA announcements.  The district has agreed to change policies that prohibited the meeting announcements and fliers but allowed them for other student clubs.

“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.  We’re pleased that this settlement will help prevent that from happening again in the Deer Valley Unified School District,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.

“The government cannot discriminate against Christian student groups simply because they are religious,” added ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.  “This settlement means that Christian student clubs in the Deer Valley district should no longer have to fear censorship while other clubs are allowed to convey their messages.”

On Jan. 30, ADF attorneys filed suit against the school district after school officials denied the Common Cause club’s request for a morning announcement over the PA system because it contained the word “prayer.”  The video and oral announcements, submitted by student Erin Krestan, invited students to attend a prayer meeting during non-instructional time.  The lawsuit also challenged the district’s literature distribution policy because it allowed school officials to discriminate against literature with religious content while allowing literature with other viewpoints.

In May, a federal judge ordered the district to permit the Christian club’s announcement while the lawsuit, Krestan v. Deer Valley Unified School District, moved forward in court.

In its order, the court concluded that Krestan was “likely to prevail on the merits of her claim” that the federal Equal Access Act requires her school to allow the video and oral announcements she submitted.  The court also concluded that the school district was unlikely to prevail in its arguments that the announcements violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

ADF attorneys filed documents with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, Friday to dismiss the lawsuit in light of the settlement.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.